Growing Old With Tom Brady

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Growing Old With Tom Brady

Age is a funny thing. Age is a scary thing. Age is just a number and a defining characteristic. More than anything, age is confusing.

For instance, today is Tom Bradys 35th birthday.

This might sound ridiculous, but Im affected by Bradys age almost as much as I am my own. As a Boston sports fan who was born in the 80s, grew up in the 90s and believed in the impossible until February 2002, Im part of a generation thats come to be defined by Tom Brady.

We were young when he was young. The older he gets, the older we get. Over the last 11 years, weve gone from high school and college kids to functioning adults. Weve messed things up, and figured things out. Weve built careers; in some cases met wives, had children and started families. And one of the few constants has been Tom Brady. Not only playing football, but growing up right along with us.

For many of us, Brady is our last idol. The last guy that we can justifiably look up to; the only athlete who can still make a 32 year old feel like hes 12. So in a weird (and morbid) way, Bradys career has turned into an hourglass for our youth. As long hes still playing football, were all young. But when he walks away . . .

Well, what happens when the defining athlete of your generation retires?

I think it means that your generations over.

But enough depressing talk. After all, theres a good chance that I might be overly sensitive about Bradys age. For one, because our birthdays are exactly six months apart, so when he celebrates a birthday, Im a half-year older. Its a convenient reminder, and a good time for reflection. On top of that, my fathers birthday is tomorrow. So as you can see: Its an emotional two-day stretch.

My dad, Tom and I were all in the Superdome that night in February '02. Its one of the greatest memories that my dad and I have together, and certainly one of the greatest memories that Brady will ever have. I was a 22-year old college senior (the game was on my birthday), without a clue of what I wanted to do. Brady was 24 and a half, and on top of the world. My Dad was 55.

Tomorrow, hell turn 66. Today, Im 32 and a half. And that 24-year-old kid who had just become the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl is now a 35-year-old married man with two kids and another on the way.

Thats crazy. And heres where it gets confusing.

Back in 2002, or even 2007, the thought of a 35-year-old Tom Brady was terrifying. The same way the thought of me being 32 or my dad being 66 would have scared me to no end.

But today, its not so bad.

My dads healthier and more active at 66 than he was at 36. Sure, there are plenty days when I miss being 22, but to be 32 with everything Ive learned and experienced over the last 10 years under my belt, its pretty great.

As for Brady?

35s a joke. Hes a better quarterback now than he was back then. Hes still one of the Top 3 QBs in the league and has shown no signs of slowing down. Even if he does slow down, speed was never his strong suit. As long he avoids major injury (obviously), Brady can play at a high level even if it's not this high into his 40s. And by the way hes talking, don't be surprised if he does.

So, Tom Brady is 35. Maybe the end is a little closer than it was in 2002. Maybe we're all a little older, with real lives and real responsibilities. But that doesn't make us old.

After all, what is age? Yeah, its funny. Its scary. Its confusing. But really, age is what you make of it. And there's no doubt that Brady will the make it count. Good news for the Pats.

Great news for the Brady Generation.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Felger: 'The Oakland Raiders are garbage, and they always have been'

Felger: 'The Oakland Raiders are garbage, and they always have been'

Want a classic Felger rant? Or forget Felger; a classic rant, period?

Watch the video above as Michael Felger eviscerates the Oakland Raiders.

"You know what the Oakland Raiders are? And their fans, and their city? A bunch of dirtbags," Felger said Tuesday on Felger & Mazz. "If that's not the most overrated team and organization in the history of sports, I don't know what is . . . That is a garbage organization and it has always has been.

"And the way people are treating them now, like . . . the Green Bay Packers or the Boston Celtics or the Montreal Canadiens or the New York Yankees are moving, is laughable. Laughable! The Oakland Raiders are garbage. And they always have been."

There's more . . . ,much more. Watch the video to hear the full treatment.

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

Rules changes are in: Field-goal leap, crackback blocks banned

PHOENIX -- The NFL has announced which rules, bylaw and resolution proposals passed following Tuesday's vote at the Arizona Biltmore. The full list is below, but here are a couple of the noteworthy changes from a Patriots perspective . . . 

* That leap-the-line play that Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin have executed for the Patriots over the course of the last two seasons? That's been prohibited, as expected. The league did not want coaches to be responsible for putting a player in a position where he may suffer a head or neck injury. (Which is different from a player putting himself in that position with a split-second decision to leave his feet mid-play.)

MORE PATRIOTS

* Receivers running pass routes can now be considered "defenseless." That means that even within the five-yard "chuck" area beyond the line of scrimmage, receivers will have some measure of protection. The Patriots, like many teams, have called for linebackers to disrupt the routes of shallow crossers, which can lead to monster hits on unexpecting players. Those types of collisions may now be fewer and farther between.

* Crackback blocks are now prohibited by a player who is in motion, even if the player is not more than two yards outside the tackle box at the snap. What's the Patriots connection here? It seems as though the overtime play that won Super Bowl LI -- during which Julian Edelman came in motion and "cracked" down on corner Brian Poole -- is now illegal. We'll look for clarification on this when the league holds its press conference describing the rules changes later on Tuesday.

Approved 2017 Playing Rules Proposals

2a. By Philadelphia; Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. (Final language will be available on NFLCommunications.com)  

8.   By Competition Committee; Makes permanent the rule that disqualifies a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls. 

9.   By Competition Committee; Changes the spot of the next snap after a touchback resulting from a free kick to the 25-yard line for one year only. 

11. By Competition Committee; Gives a receiver running a pass route defenseless player protection. 

12. By Competition Committee; Makes crackback blocks prohibited by a backfield player who is in motion, even if he is not more than two yards outside the tackle when the ball is snapped. 

13. By Competition Committee; Replaces the sideline replay monitor with a hand-held device and authorizes designated members of the Officiating department to make the final decision on replay reviews. 

14. By Competition Committee; Makes it Unsportsmanlike Conduct to commit multiple fouls during the same down designed to manipulate the game clock. 

15. By Competition Committee; Makes actions to conserve time illegal after the two-minute warning of either half.

Approved 2017 Bylaw Proposals

4.     By Competition Committee; Liberalizes rules for timing, testing, and administering physical examinations to draft-eligible players at a club’s facility for one year only. 

5.     By Competition Committee; Changes the procedures for returning a player on Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform or Reserve/Non-Football Injury or Illness to the Active List to be similar to those for returning a player that was Designated for Return.  

6.     By Competition Committee; The League office will transmit a Personnel Notice to clubs on Sundays during training camp and preseason.

Approved 2017 Resolution Proposal

G-4.     By Competition Committee: Permits a contract or non-contract non-football employee to interview with and be hired by another club during the playing season, provided the employer club has consented.